This original announcement was published by the EPA on September 11, 2019. View the proposal description here.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has received an application for an experimental use permit that would allow Oxitec to study the use of genetically engineered mosquitoes to reduce mosquito populations. EPA is sharing a description of the application with the public for a 30-day comment period, closing Oct. 11, 2019.
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can spread several diseases of significant human health concern, including the Zika virus and dengue fever. Oxitec’s proposal is to conduct additional research on reducing these mosquito populations and to gather information that could support a subsequent application for broader use in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that “preventing bites from insects and ticks is vital to stopping the spread of vector-borne diseases, and more prevention methods are needed.”
Oxitec is proposing to release genetically engineered male mosquitoes into the environment to mate with wild female mosquitoes. Male mosquitoes do not bite people. These males are modified in such a way that causes their female offspring to die as larvae. Male offspring would survive to become fully functional adults with the same modifications, which can provide multi-generational effectiveness so that ultimately Aedes aegypti mosquito populations in the release areas decline.
Oxitec’s proposed experimental program is designed to take place over 24 months on up to 6,600 acres in Harris County, Texas, and Monroe County, Florida.
After review of the application and public comments, EPA will decide whether to issue or deny the permit and, if issued, the conditions under which the study is to be conducted.
Public comments about this proposed permit should be submitted to EPA-HQ-OPP-2019-0274 on or before Oct. 11, 2019.